Twice every spring, circumstance brings Louisburg and Granville Central together on the softball diamond for one energetic intention – the opportunity to win the Tar-Roanoke Athletic Conference championship.
The burgeoning rivals have competed against each other in the TRAC for the past three years, with both schools earning one outright title – and sharing the other in 2014.
During that span, the TRAC’s softball motto has been Granville Central and Louisburg at the top of the conference, followed by everybody else.
“It pretty much comes down to those two teams every year,” said Louisburg head coach J Stamey. “We know the games against Granville Central are going to decide whether or not we win the conference. And it always seems to be a good game between us.”
Both clubs will be moving into the Northern Carolina 1A/2A Conference beginning next season, so the impetus at Louisburg is to close its TRAC tenure with back-to-back championships following its 2016 success.
The host Warriors took a huge step toward that goal Tuesday by stopping Granville Central by a 12-1 margin in a game that was called after the top of the fifth due to the 10-run rule.
Louisburg (9-1, 5-0) took the lead with a four-spot in the bottom of the first, and then all but sealed the victory by delivering six runs in the bottom of the fourth.
That was plenty of support for senior pitcher Arianna Fuller-Bell. The four-year mound starter at Louisburg allowed two hits, both of which came in the top of the first. Fuller-Bell retired the final 14 batters she faced and finished with five strikeouts.
Louisburg senior catcher Summer Phillips laced a double and triple to spark her club’s nine-hit attack, which also saw leadoff ace Mackenzie Wood reach base in each of her three at-bats.
“We came right out in the first inning and started ripping the ball – we didn’t wait around,” said Louisburg outfielder Sarah Foster. “We did really well on offense, and we also played well on defense.”
Granville Central (8-6, 7-1) didn’t help itself by committing five errors and allowing four walks – miscues that the Warriors were more than happy to take advantage of.
“Between these two games (versus Louisburg), you pretty much know where you are at,” said Granville Central coach Stephanie Cash. “We have four seniors, but we are also starting three freshmen, including our pitcher (Makayla Debolt). We had two starters who weren’t here, so we had some people in different positions. But even with that, we need to have the focus and not make mistakes. We need that hustle factor.”